Since the blockbuster Alexander McQueen show at the Met in 2011, every major museum has discovered a new channel for boosting attendance, especially with the younger generations. In my recent memory, DFW area has seen quite a few: Jean Paul Gaultier and Iris van Herpen at DMA, the Mary Baskett collection of Japanese fashion from the Crow Collection, and recently Balenciaga at the Kimbell.
The opening of Jeremy Scott’s retrospective at Dallas Contemporary feels different. No other fashion show has embraced the commercial side of the business more conspicuously. Gone is the naughtiness of Gaultier, the intricacy of Herpen or the minimalism of Balenciaga. Instead imagine if Warhol, Basquiat and Lichtenstein had met one day and decided to embrace pure consumerism, the output would be Jeremy Scott.
Yet, the enigma of Scott’s collection is that it is as warm in its aesthetics as cool in objectivity. They speak to both ends of the spectrum: the intellectual circle that values more of its cultural annotation (perhaps as the punch lines against consumerism) and the millennials who dig brand visuals and bright patterns as a fashion statement.
Jeremy Scott is the poster child of the social media generation. Blasting of colors and abashed with logos, his collection pops on an Instagram feed. The flavor of streetwear, a phrase which very much goes against the grain of the fashion industry and becomes a new norm. You may disagree with the look, but you can’t ignore it.
Except for Scott himself.
In a crowded opening where many avid collectors were having a feast of Moschino clothing, Scott was almost invisible in his full black dress with a tail. Trim, and clean cut, he shook hands and took photos with attendees. It occurs to me that neither the process nor the material is pronounced in the show. The genius stems from his boldness in blending high and low and his transformation of visual brand identities into graphic marvels.
The night was young and the music was loud outside of Dallas Contemporary, where drinks were served for Scott’s joyful followers. In an adjacent room, Margarita Cabrera’s exhibition shone without fanfare. I walked quietly in her sculptural installation Space in Between, where many cacti made of border patrol uniforms speak border-cross stories in unison. I felt my heart battered examining a different set of iconographies, stitched by the immigrant communities about the lives, experience, and beliefs of their own.
That show did not attract many dressed in Moschino. Maybe it is a night for them to remember as they are wearing a piece of art. But maybe, fashion exhibitions only bring visitors into the door, not necessarily into the art.
We headed to our final stop of the night — Ro2’s downtown pop-up show, where Angel Cabrales created a B-movie like installation addressing the border crisis. Along the way, I quickly searched Moschino brand and learned you could almost buy a piece of art with the money you have to pay for just a T-shirt. Friends and I were debating whether such fashion-forward streetwear is actually wearable in Dallas. I peered through the window at the McDonald’s along Riverfront Boulevard. It stayed open late. I wondered how many workers there would see that their logo is also printed on another set of clothing, with a much higher a markup.
Maybe, McDonald’s needs to take queues from Scott and enlarge the embroidery of their logos on the uniforms. When they are big and bright enough, the graphic quality is gratifying and joyful, just like the golden arches lit up against the darkened Downtown skyline.